ted | driving | Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

2006 VW Golf TDi


ted | driving | Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

it’s past midnight and i’ve spent the better part of the evening at a car dealership. the short version:

traded in my 1995 volvo 850. bought a 2006 vw golf tdi (manual transmission, of course).


One turban, one sheik, one lear

ted | travel | Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

Ganesh willing, I’ll be coming back ot sweet home Chicago tonight via a big silver pinstriped dong. In the meantime, you can read the crap I wrote last year in India. Obviously, it’s unfinished, has poor grammar and even worse punctuation. Shut up.

I’ll get around to writing more about India when I get back. Swear to Shiva. It’s nice, but seeing as it’s business travel I’m insulated from the rough edges of the country I so desperately want to explore.

Ethanol Madness

ted | driving | Wednesday, February 1st, 2006

Gents & Dames –

Let me apologize for being such a zealot. I got all worked up into a froth over ethanol and my burgeoning petroleum guilt that I gleefully made the short drive into Indiana and grinning like an idiot, began to indiscriminantly fill my 850’s tank with E85. It worked beautifully for the first two tanks and I was understandably ecstatic – Hell yes, I’m helping local farmers! The environment! National Security! Pride! My wallet! Huzzah, tiny flags for everyone!

But this last top-off with pure E85 started making my car act a bit funny. Hesitation at low RPMs. Shifts weren’t as smooth. I simply thought the ethanol was loosening junk in the fuel lines and being clumsy with the clutch. No big deal. But on the way home last night, I got the dreaded Check Engine Light, an unholy amber rectilinear eye, staring me in the face with the truth. Three possibilities immediately came to mind:

1. I had loosened enough junk in the fuel system to clog the filter and the injectors weren’t getting quite enough fuel. No big deal.

2. The reduced amount of BTUs available in ethanol were finally catching up with me with this higher concentration in the tank and I either needed larger injectors or slightly more gasoline in the mix. No big deal.

3. Three tanks of elevated concentrations of ethanol had suddenly and irrepairably damaged my entire fuel system, all the way from the filler neck up to the injector nozzles had begun leaking, corroding and disintergrating. My car was completely ruined and I was completely boned, all because I tried a fuel the car was not designed to run on.

I got home, pulled out the bible, turned to the book of Fuel, chapter Fault Codes and read the code set in socket A2: 1-1-3 (bka 113 or 1 1 3). Temporary fuel mixture too weak. I immediately suspected the fuel filter being clogged and called around to find a new one. This morning, my Fram G7736 arrived at the local Murray’s Discount Auto Parts (kudos for them for ordering it arrive the next morning first thing), I quickly replaced the old filter and was on my way to work. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t get another CEL on the way to work.

Stopped off and topped up the tank with as much 87 octane gasoline as I could fit, read the same code from A2, reset it and went to work. At lunch, channeling that Bill Cosby skit (“You gotta drive it at about a hundred miles an hour to burn all that gunk out.” “Where am I gonna do that?” “Any side street.”), I took half an hour of hot laps around town and much to my delight, no CEL. Car isn’t hesitating anymore and is back to shifting normally. I think #2 was the culprit. Just for grins, I put in a bottle of Techron (on sale at Pep Boys) and one of Lucas’ Fuel System Cleaner.

I pulled out my propeller hat and slide rule and worked up some concentration figures:

Tank 1: ~25% ethanol. 25.22 mpg.
Tank 2: 46.40% ethanol. 25.33 mpg.
Tank 3: 73.46% ethanol. Set CEL, pulled 1 1 3 code from socket A2.
Tank 4: 63.81% ethanol. No CEL.

So somewhere between 63.81% and 73.46% ethanol, my engine couldn’t tolerate the lean mix and set the 113 code. I’m sheepishly eating crow already on the subject of ethanol, but I’ll wait until the drive home to find out if I’m done or I have another helping on my way.

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